The online etymology dictionary provides the following history of the word, WANT.
(For larger view of the inset above, click here.)
Whether the word is used as a noun or a verb, want is associated with a deficiency or lack of something needed or desired.
Ordinarily, we want what we lack, not what we have already. An exception is if we are asked if we want any or all of our current belongings; we are really being asked if we desire to keep them because we anticipate that we will have a future use for them. Would we long for them if they became inaccessible to us? If we are asked, “Do you want these leftovers?” the question is really about whether we will want to eat those leftovers when we get hungry again. To answer affirmatively is to acknowledge that we will indeed be hungry again and that keeping the leftovers will help us avoid a future deficiency.
Even if the want is projected into the future, being in want of something is the same as feeling a lack of that thing and longing for it.
When we say we Want more money, a bigger house, a better job, etc., we are actually declaring that we do not yet have those things, that there is a lack/deficiency we wish to overcome.
Being in Want does not attract an acquisition to us; instead, it motivates us to take actions towards it. Wanting has an emotional feeling which prompts physical action to remediate the discomfort.
However, if we do not Want to DO whatever it takes to produce our desired outcome, no amount of wishing/hoping for an acquisition to manifest, or for a person, situation, or fact to change, will make it so.
Well, wanting something is equivalent to affirming its absence in our life. As we utter the phrase, I Want…(this or that), we become in our minds “the person who does not have this or that.” Having an internal story of lack actually precludes attainment by attunement/receptivity, and what is wanted remains out of reach.
In other words, while we want something, we are inadvertently rejecting it. Ooops!
If a computer receives a command that “does not compute” it can become stuck in a loop. Likewise, being prompted by a want to acquire that for which we have no receptivity puts us in a psychological loop.
Loopiness keeps us in a perpetual state of unfulfilled Want.
Fortunately, practical application of the four-fold nature of Quadernity will help disentangle inner conflicts that stand in the way of achieving our heart’s desires.
Beginning at the beginning…
We are sourced. Immediately thereafter, we need to be re-sourced.
Resources Are What Re-Source Us
Deficiency of resources has a chemical marker; a corresponding e-motion that instigates motion. The emotions, themselves, cannot bring us the resources we Want; they prompt us to take actions towards pleasurable gains and away from painful losses.
We associate pleasure with resource gains and pain with resource losses, so says the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) has a crucial role in motivational control – in learning what things in the world are good and bad, and in choosing actions to gain the good things and avoid the bad things.
Our innate wisdom monitors and regulates our bio-electro-chemical systems and is the prime provocateur of full-body cooperation in processes such as oxygenation, hydration, nutrition, elimination, and reproduction.
Contexualizing Four States of Being
- If we were starving (deficiency of resources), we would NEED to eat so badly that anything given us would be eagerly accepted.
- When we are merely hungry (sufficiency of resources), we WANT to please our tastebuds and provide sufficient carbs to fuel our body. The feeling of wanting something can be subtle or powerful. Jealousy and envy are emotional/chemical states that most of us have felt a time or two.
- Even if it is mealtime and we are somewhat hungry, when our bodies have plenty of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in reserve (efficiency, due to excess resources), we CAN offer to share our own food with someone else more in need.
- When we merge with the integrated source of all potentially differentiable re-sources, the kinds of resources that pass linearly through our alimentary canal are of little concern to us. Ultimately, we dissociate from our individuality and Rest in the effortless proficiency of the immeasurable, non-linear I AM.
The four phrases, I Need, I Want, I Can and I Am, are familiar from the parent page, Overcoming the Otherwise, to which this aside is attached. To provide relative orientations for these significant phrases, the Venn Diagram serves us well:
The orientation of phrases in the graphic above indicates a progression of three states of being, from Deficiency (-1) on the left, Sufficiency (0) in the center, to Efficiency (+1) on the right. The trio is altogether transcended, above and beyond, by an immeasurable state of absolute Proficiency.
On the human scale, the four states align with our primary developmental phases: Youth, Teen, Adult, and Enlightened Elder, respectively.
When we are a young dependent, we Need help to survive; left alone we would find ourselves Deficient of resources (left crescent above). On the other end of the spectrum, when we are a mature dependable person, we Can save for the future, serve others and solve problems; we have become Efficient (right crescent above).
In between, the teen Wants satisfaction. Emotional satisfaction is aligned with the state of Sufficiency, centrally located in the graphic above. Like Goldilocks, teens wish to find a sweet spot that is “just right”, between too much and too little. They will reject parents who either over- or under-protect them, and they will disrespect authorities who give them either too little or too much responsibility.
The trusty Venn Diagram, a pragmatic schematic, now displays the alignment of terms as they correlate with the motivations of the young dependent, the teen who wants independence, the dependable adult, and the interdependent wise elder.
Included in the graphic above are indicators of physical reaction times. The extremely fast reaction time of our unconscious instincts and the extremely slow reactions of our conscious intentions are positioned in the outer crescent shapes, which flank the the central almond shape that contains the mid-paced, semi- or sub-conscious impulses.
Above and beyond, speed is irrelevant. It cannot be recorded, as no time passes. The eternal is accessed instantaneously.
The Need for Speed
With deficiencies (or excesses, in cases of toxic overload) come chemical changes in the body, which evoke emotional feelings. Our chemical e-motions direct the majority of our motions.
The more imperative the need for recovering from deficits (or eliminating excess), the faster our reaction must be; consequently, slow conscious consideration of our action is minimized in matters where our instincts tell us that survival is at stake.
Unconsciously, our survival instincts (left crescent above) cause nerves to rapid-fire, activating muscles to defensively contract or extend immediately, when an object hurtles in our direction.
Our internal chemistry can also provoke our entire body into action on behalf of our cells, which cannot migrate (like animals do) in order to obtain resources. To solicit full-bodied assistance our cells send up a symptom of thirst when they are dehydrated, or a symptom of hunger when nutritional reserves are running low. We hardly recognize we are responding to internal cellular signals when we get a glass of water or a plate of food.
Chemically-driven impulses (in the central almond shape above) are not quite as fast as our instincts, though they are much faster than our intentional actions (right crescent).
Since intentional, self-reflective consciousness is what makes us human beings reign supreme in all of Earth’s animal kingdom, it may come as a surprise that relatively few of our actions are actually under our conscious control.
(Maybe it is not so surprising, as our thoughtlessness has allowed advanced technology to be used for short-sighted profits without concern for environmental and human costs. To highlight just one poorly planned policy with disregarded consequences: we subsidize corporations who allow their toxic runoff to enter our waterways, dump islands of trash into our oceans, and produce air pollution that kills over five thousand people per day while childhood asthma reaches epidemic proportions.)
Between the phases of childhood dependency/deficiency and adult dependability/efficiency, a teens’ survival needs are sufficiently met, yet, because their brains are in the process of being rewired, teens rarely utilize a long-view lens to anticipate future consequences when making decisions. Teenagers are reliably impulsive and impulsively unreliable. They Want to acquire whatever will quickly deliver satisfaction with the least amount of effort. (Same goes for those corporate execs who receive seven-figure bonuses while immaturely shirking all moral responsibility.)
The self-succeeding I Am state of being, representative of the inspirational elder, is in the transcendent position above the Venn Diagram. The enlightened elder passes along for posterity his/her accrued wisdom: although self-discipline is literally counter-intuitive, it is the only way to escape the gravitational pull of the I Need and its meager payoffs, the tiny, temporary pleasures of negating deficiencies.
Temptations of the Infamous Comfort Zone
In the image below, we find a declaration that our comfort zone is a threat our highest and best lives.
The neutral comfort zone (middle of Venn Diagram above) is where our sense of self feels secure. Unfortunately for us, our comfort zone corresponds to the I Want state, which is constantly tugged to assuage emotions of deficiency that chemically drive our bodily actions.
The pendulum swings from Deficiency (-1) to Efficiency (+1), and back again.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Reviewing Newton’s Law in the context of the cellular-whole-body connection described above, and in accordance with the swinging pendulum, we restate the principle:
For every deficiency there is a WANT, and for every efficiency there is a NEED.
Sometimes we demote our Wants to Needs, such as when chemical addiction automatically turns a pleasing ‘high’ into a chemical dependency. Automation may also be employed to gain efficiency, in which case it can have a positive outcome. The use and misuse of instincts typically dedicated to life-saving reactions is an important topic, explored in the Aside: Automation, for Better or Worse.
Tired of the pendulum swinging back and forth, we Want to snuggle down in the comfort of Sufficiency, the sweet spot, midway between Deficiency and Efficiency. We Want to cease moving hither and thither to obtain resources. We Want to rest and to enjoy satisfaction.
One way to rid ourselves of emotional Wants is to acquire whatever it is that remedies the deficiency, as discussed above. However, that would require actions, and actions create reactions, which keep the pendulum swinging.
In an attempt to halt the pendulum swing, we may try any or all of these four options:
- We grow immune to the prompts of wants. Those who numb-out like this end up inactivated and depressed.
- We grow accustomed to being in a chronic state of Want. The feeling of being in Want is normalized, and, because normal feels comfortable, this state of Want is automatically guarded by the unconscious instincts of homeostasis. Once identified with our daily discomforts we have no real desire to achieve relief. We saunter on, like a donkey who accepts the taunts of a carrot dangling just beyond reach.
- We train ourselves not to respond to the chemical triggers of wanting. We override the discomfort in one of two ways. Either we rationalize that our pain is an acceptable trade off, suspecting other options to be even worse, or, on the more positive side, we convince ourselves that delayed gratification delivers a greater reward. Link here to a study that shows self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance.
- We give up all our beliefs and stories. Without them, we accept each moment as novel and interesting, without any desire to make it otherwise.
Not all who have reached the legal age of adulthood have learned to extricate their I Want from bondage to the I Need, with its dictates of deficiencies.
Stuck in the loop of Wanting, we cannot efficiently save for the future, solve problems or serve others. Our I Cans remain tethered to our I Wants and our I Needs.
When deficient resources and/or challenges to our storied-self instigates pain and fear, our receptivity remains shut down to conserve what we have at hand. Unfortunately, this occurs at a time when we could really use our full capacity for efficiently solving problems.
We have heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Is the solution to simply adapt to lowered standards when things break or wear out or get lost?
This sentiment is not uncommon, however the strategy is debatable when it comes to dynamical systems. Concerning mechanical devices and our bodies, making corrections/adjustments for wear and tear ought to be routine.
When pain arises we are already in severe deficiency, making it even more difficult to expend scarce resources to recover. Regardless, we are forced to react in order to regain the neutral status of our comfort zone.
Reluctantly using resources to prevent a break-down is one thing. What is truly uncommon is investing resources to facilitate a break-through.
When we efficiently manage our resources, we accrue a reserve. By giving some of our excess, it does not pull us all the way down into deficiency. When our resources are plentiful and our stories are unchallenged, we experience a state of pleasure/love, and our receptors are open. Things flow efficiently to and from us; we are creative and can enjoy the richness of life.
In this state, we attract ever more resources. With abundance, we can save (memories, lessons, skills, friendships, belongings) for the future, we can solve problems and we can serve others.
Only with powerful intentionality can we transcend the Sufficiency of our comfort zones. Intellectual and/or inspirational intervention is usually necessary before the I Can will go against the grain to expand and enhance capabilities.
The I Can state is one of Efficiency, achieved by the mature person who has invested attention and directed actions toward developing capacities that compound over time, rather than acquiring whatever quells the appetite in the moment. (If this sounds familiar, it echoes our previous comparison of neutral vs. positive goals.)
Having more than what is currently demanded allows us to use these resources to invest in more compounding resources.
When we are consistently in the advanced state of I Can the calling of our soul to fulfill its purpose becomes increasingly insistent.
Our I Am transcends and includes the other three life “spaces”, as seen below, and calls us to fulfill our true purpose, to deliver the gift that we came here to give the world, and to advance human evolution.
We are learning how to take the reigns from our I Wants and give them over to our I Am.